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Home > TECHNICAL INFORMATION > Fire safety

Fire Safety

Fire Warning and Escape

Mains-wired smoke detectors are needed in the hall, landing and stairs of all storeys.

  • There should be at least one detector on each storey, and the detectors interlinked (so that a detection of any one triggers all of them),
  • Each must be mounted within 7.5m of the door to any habitable room, and at least 300mm from walls and light fittings, and
  • They must be either wired to a separate circuit from the consumer unit, or have a battery back up.

The existing stairway (i.e., the hall at ground floor, the stairs from ground to the first floor and the first floor landing) at ground and first floor level should be enclosed within 30-minute fire resisting walls, including any glass panels. The stairway should not be open to any other room such as a lounge, kitchen, etc.

The stairway should open either:

  • directly to a final exit (diagram 1a), or
  • to a space from which two escape routes are provided, each leading to final exits and separated from each other by fire resisting construction and fire doors (diagram 1b).

Loft conversion fire safety diagrams

All existing doors to habitable rooms at ground and first floors opening onto the hall or landing should be fitted with a self-closing device, and any new doors to the hall and landing to be fire resisting.

A new stair within an existing stairway enclosure should be separated from any new rooms by a self-closing fire door and fire resisting walls. Alternatively, the new stair may be separated from the existing storey by a fire door and fire resisting construction.

An emergency escape window is required to every new habitable room in the loft (in addition to the enclosure of the hall, stairs and landing described above).

This escape window, dormer or rooflight (shown in diagrams 2a or 2b) must have:

  • a clear opening area of at least 0.33m²,
  • a minimum clear opening width or height of 0.45m,
  • the bottom of the opening no higher than 1.1m above the floor, and no more than 1.7m up the roof from the edge of the roof.

The window must be sited where a ladder can be placed below (e.g. not above an extension).

Surface Spread of Flame

Plastered walls and ceilings generally meet this requirement. Any timber finishes to the ceiling, and to the walls over a certain amount, will need to be treated with a fire-retardant paint or varnish (subject to Building Control approval).

Fire resistance
The new floor and any structure supporting it must have a fire resistance of 30 minutes from underneath. This should extend to the inside face of the external walls.

The fire resistance of a floor is dependent on the ceiling beneath, the size and spacing of joists, and the boards over.

  • The existing lath and plaster ceiling below may provide the required fire resistance, provided that it is in good condition and firmly attached to the laths. If the ceiling is plasterboarded then 12.5mm thick boards are required to give 30 minutes fire resistance. You may have to provide an additional skim coat or additional plasterboard to the ceiling.
  • Joists to be at a maximum of 600mm centres, and at least 38mm wide (if the floor falls outside these limits you should consult Building Control),
  • Floor boarding over to be tongue and grooved, or plain edged boards overlaid with hardboard (to slow smoke and hot gases that penetrate the ceiling).

The first floor over any habitable rooms under the landing should also have 30 minutes fire resistance. If the existing floor is plain edged boards, or badly fitting tongue and grooved boards, this should be overlaid with hardboard.

The separating walls between dwellings should have at least 60 minutes fire resistance. Some older properties do not have separating walls within the roof space, or may have holes or gaps in them. These will need to be sealed up to the underside of the roof covering. You will also need to be careful of any new structural elements supported on this wall, or passing through it (if beams, floor joists or purlins pass through the wall, they can provide a route for smoke, fire and sound to spread from one house to another). Contact Building Control for advice.

External Fire Spread

Any dormer cheeks (the triangular external wall to the side) within 1.0m of a boundary to any other property will need to be either:

  • 30 minutes fire resistant with not more than 2.0m² of combustible material added to the outside surface (e.g. timber or uPVC cladding), or
  • Not more than 1.0m².

There are requirements for thermoplastic rooflights, and for combustible materials used as roof coverings. For further advice on this refer to Building Control.

‘I would like to thank you for the excellent standard of service and work when completing our attic loft conversion last year.’

Laurent, Enfield

I could not be more
pleased with the way my attic loft conversion has been finished the quality of work is absolutely fantastic.’

Chris, Enfield

‘Dealing with you and your team, has been a pleasure, we are very pleased with the finished product.’

Tony, Waltham

   
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